GCPS Board Meeting Summary for December 15, 2000

          The following are highlights of the December 14, 2000, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education.
          The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next meeting.

          School Board Approves Leadership Appointments

              NEW POSITION
              Carlotta Rozzi, currently an assistant principal at Rebecca Minor Elementary
              Principal of Beaver Ridge Elementary
              Debbie Cherry, currently an administrative assistant at Brookwood Elementary
              Assistant Principal at Brookwood Elementary
              Karen Head, currently an administrative assistant at Brookwood Elementary
              Assistant Principal at Brookwood Elementary
              Dana Pugh, currently employed as a teacher leader and counselor by DeKalb County Schools
              Assistant Principal at Hull Middle
              Connie Wright, currently an intervention specialist at Kanoheda Elementary
              Assistant Principal at Kanoheda Elementary
              Dr. Mary Kathy Thomas, currently a teacher at Partee Elementary
              Assistant Principal at Simpson Elementary
              Kim Odom, currently a teacher at Shiloh Middle
              Administrative Assistant at Snellville Middle
              Lesley Pendleton, currently working half-time in the Department of Special Education and half-time at Suwanee Elementary
              Special Education Lead Teacher in Speech and Language Pathology, Department of Special Education and Psychological Services
              Cheryl Krug, currently an administrative assistant at Taylor Elementary
              Assistant Principal at Taylor Elementary

          Board Recognizes Outstanding Science Educator
          The Board of Education recognized Bert Taylor, a teacher at Collins Hill High, for being named "Georgia Outstanding Earth Science Teacher for 2000" by the Southeastern section of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. One K-12 teacher is selected from each state to receive the honor.

          Board Adopts Meeting Schedule for 2001

          The Board of Education approved its calendar of regular monthly meetings for 2001. The Board will meet at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month with the exception of June. Board meetings will be held on the following dates in 2001: January 11, February 8, March 8, April 12, May 10, June 21, July 12, August 9, September 13, October 11, November 8, and December 13.

          Board Members Adopt Reimbursement Resolution
          The School Board adopted a resolution that will allow the Board to use its FY2001 Budget General Fund, if necessary, to retire the sales tax notes for construction that were issued in January 2000. The resolution, which is required by the Internal Revenue Service, will allow the Board to cover any shortfall, up to $60 million, until the 2001 sales tax notes can be issued. If the General Fund is used, the money will be reimbursed out of proceeds from the 2001 notes once they are issued.

          Board of Education Adopts Construction Sales Tax Notes Resolution
          To prepare for the sale of construction sales tax notes in 2001, the Board approved a resolution authorizing staff to publicize the pending sale of the notes and to seek bids for their purchase. The Board will not take action on the actual sale of the construction notes until January. The proceeds will be used to purchase new school sites, expand current sites, construct and equip classrooms, renovate existing facilities, and make systemwide technology improvements. The resolution allows staff to take the necessary action to issue the tax-exempt construction notes. They serve as a temporary loan for cash-flow purposes in anticipation of the receipt of sales taxes in the year 2001.

          School Nutrition Program Provides Report to School Board
          Three times a year, GCPS' School Nutrition Program informs the Board about rates of participation in its breakfast and lunch programs, and the financial status of the program at each school. The December report shows that the School Nutrition Program is financially sound. In Gwinnett elementary schools, 79 percent of students participate in the program. Middle school participation in the first quarter rose to 62 percent from the previous year's 58 percent, while high school participation rose from 39 percent last year to 43 percent today. Systemwide, 70 percent of students participate in the School Nutrition Program.

          Gwinnett Retirement System Presents Annual Report
          Each year, the Gwinnett Retirement System (GRS) issues an annual report to employees and retirees. The report shows the status of the retirement program and includes an outside auditor's opinion of the program and the report of the GRS actuary. This year's report shows that GRS is in sound financial condition and is positioned to provide the benefits outlined in its plan.

          Board Reduces Bonded Indebtedness With SPLOST-Funded Payment
          As promised when the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) was approved by voters in March 1997, the Board of Education made a $37,120,000 payment today to reduce its long-term bonded indebtedness. The Series 1993 Bonds were retired early, saving over $13.4 million in interest as well as reducing the outstanding debt by more than $37 million. The December 14 payment, along with $20.8 million that will be paid in February as part of regular bond debt service, will lower the system's long-term debt to less than $300 million, a decrease of 33 percent since 1996. During the same time period, the Board's millage rate for debt service has decreased 57 percent, from 4.75 mills in 1996 to 2.05 mills today.

          Changes in State Law Prompt Changes in GCPS Policies
          When the Georgia General Assembly meets each year, new State laws are written and existing laws are revised. Frequently, this legislative action requires changes or additions to the Board of Education's policies. Executive Assistant to the Superintendent Alexis Kirijan briefed the Board on how changes made to State law in 2000 affect the school system and its policies. The School Board is in the process of updating a number of its policies to comply with these changes in State law. Ms. Kirijan reviewed the process that is followed in proposing and adopting School Board policies.

          Tabled Policies Adopted by Board
          The Board of Education approved the following proposed policies which were tabled at the November Board meeting to allow for public input:
          • Fingerprinting/Criminal Record Check, Policy GBDA-- The proposed policy reflects the State requirement that all new employees hired after July 1, 2000, be fingerprinted and have a criminal record check. Certified personnel already employed must have a criminal record check before applying for renewal of certification by the Professional Standards Commission.
          • Board Goals and Objectives, Policy BA-- Proposed changes in this policy bring it into compliance with State requirements that were approved through the A-Plus Education Reform Act of 2000 (House Bill 1187). The law calls for each Board to provide a system-level school improvement plan that includes a component for staff and professional development.
          • Internal Audit, Policy DID-- Minor changes to this policy are needed to make it consistent with the school system's current organizational structure.

            Proposed Policies Tabled for Input
            The Board of Education tabled the following proposed policies until the January 2001 meeting to allow for public input:
            • Board Conflict of Interest, Policy BHA-- Policy revision states that no local board of education shall employ or promote an immediate family member of a board member unless a public, recorded vote is taken.
            • School Year, Policy AE-- Policy is recommended to be rescinded as it is addressed in proposed Policy AEA (below).
            • School (Calendar) Year, Policy AEA-- Proposed changes in language are needed to comply with requirements of HB 1187. There is no effect on the current length of the school year in Gwinnett County Public Schools (180 days).
            • Pay for Performance, Policy DHA-- The proposed policy gives the local school principal the authority to determine the disbursement of Pay for Performance funds granted by the State Board of Education.
            • School Councils, Policy BBF-- New language in this policy outlines how the school councils mandated by HB1187 will operate in the school system.
            • Ceremonies and Observances, Policy IKD-- Proposed changes address graduation ceremonies for Phoenix High students.
            • Student Transfer Requests, Policy JBCD-- Changes are recommended in the policy to include the provisions for school transfers that are allowed under HB 1187.

              Advance Purchase of School Buses Approved
              In a move to acquire needed school buses at a desirable bid price, the Board approved the advance purchase of 83 buses at an estimated cost of $3.9 million. Under the advance purchase plan, the Board will be able to buy the 72-passenger buses at a bid price that will result in savings of at least 15 percent or an estimated $600,000. In related action, the Board approved a resolution authorizing the school system to apply for a low-interest loan through the Georgia Municipal Association Lease Pool to fund the bus purchases. Details about how much might need to be borrowed under this arrangement will be determined as part of the School Board's budgeting process.

              Superintendent's Contract Amended to Include Vehicle Allowance
              Beginning in January, Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks' contract will no longer include a provision for a school system vehicle. The Board approved amending his contract to include instead a vehicle allowance of $1,200 a month.

              Board Chairman Dr. Billy Britt Applauded for Leadership in 2000
              Outgoing Board Chairman Dr. Billy Britt was praised and thanked by the Board and Superintendent Wilbanks for his steady leadership in 2000. Mr. Wilbanks cited Dr. Britt's fairness in allowing for citizen input and Board discussion while keeping the meetings focused on the business of teaching and learning. "Dr. Britt did an excellent job of conducting the Board meetings and seeing that decisions were made that were in the best interest of students," said Mr. Wilbanks. Dr. Britt was presented with a plaque in recognition and appreciation of his year as Board chairman.

              Citizens Address the Board
              Shiloh High parents Madaline Harrison, Ray Harrison, Ronnie Greene, George Hill, and Mark Lester addressed the School Board regarding concerns about the school's softball program.